The Young Communist League has called on President Jacob Zuma to intervene to end the turf wars involving Police Minister Nathi Mthethwa, his deputy Fikile Mbalula and National Police Commissioner Bheki Cele.
The SACP youth wing said Zuma had to improve relations between ministers and their deputies.
"We cannot afford this kind of situation and call on President Zuma to move with speed in ensuring that ministers and deputy ministers know and understand their roles in line with government priorities," the YCL said in a statement.
The Sunday Times reported that the trio were outdoing each other over who gets more media coverage.
With Cele, politically more senior in the ANC but more junior than Mbalula and Mthethwa in government, the turf wars are about who is boss in crime-fighting efforts.
The matter is complicated by the fact that Mbalula, as former president of the ANCYL, was once Mthethwa's senior.
"Government priorities cannot be compromised by turf wars or competition for publicity," the statement said.
"The YCLSA noted the commitment by President Zuma that he would ensure there were clear guidelines to govern the relationship between ministers and deputies.
"We believe this should be done so that roles are clearly determined."
YCL spokesperson Gugu Ndima said similar divisions dogged former president Thabo Mbeki's cabinet, citing tensions between then minister of health Manto Tshabalala-Msimang and her deputy Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge.